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A woman for all seasons

Former member of the Mary Immaculate Charismatic Prayer Group, Claudette Medina-Charles pays tribute to Edriss Redmond who died August 22 at the age of 96. This tribute has been edited for length.

The Sunday ‘Sister Edriss’ Redmond passed, marked the end of an era. A woman of many parts, she unstintingly gave her time, talent, and treasure to build up Mary Immaculate Charismatic Prayer Group (MICPG) and hence, she contributed to a national charismatic ethos.

At the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Sister Edriss hosted two weekly prayer meetings – Wednesdays and Fridays. Wednesdays were for bonafide, regular members plus novice members learning charismatic lore.

At these Wednesday meetings, she often engaged feature speakers to enlighten members on a range of edifying Holy Spirit themes. There was also much intercession along with meaningful praise and worship segments.

In order to enhance the praise and worship segments, she sourced and invested in an audio system that included four microphones and acoustic instruments such as trap sets.

At that time, the late 80s, such purchases were considered outside the norm. Various Cathedral/Sacred Heart choirs existing then, for example, the Cathedral Folk Choir were allowed use of these new instruments without charge during weekend Masses. Holy Mass participation for both choirs and congregation were greatly improved due to this superior equipment.

Unlike those on Wednesdays, Friday meetings were quieter, cosy, family type, enrichment sessions. They were compulsory for new members, those who wanted to accelerate their spiritual development, or others who hoped to hone their charismatic giftedness.

Sister Edriss also ran a series of fruitful Life in the Spirit seminars for about 30 years within or apart from the weekly prayer meetings. At these events, she was an avid mentor and counsellor on several levels.

She was an exceptional marriage counsellor who was highly commended for preventing a number of mature marriages from going on the rocks. Additionally, she assisted in the God-led union of many young individuals, ensuring that they began their married life in a Christian way.

Some 30 years ago, Bible study classes, intercessory prayer meetings and a homework centre directed by Stella Bruce was established at  66 Lady Young Road, Morvant. The homework centre still exists. Many continue to benefit from these services.

There were also street meetings on Duncan Street, the Brian Lara Promenade, Chaguanas, Tobago and many more locations too numerous to mention.

Rural prayer groups were also assisted. Edriss visited, taught, and mentored their leaders. These groups were ready attendees along with MICPG members at the biannual mini-conferences Sister Edriss held in the Cathedral/Nelson Street carpark. These mini-conferences were modelled after the national rally template.

Powerful speakers such as Fr Reginald Hezekiah and Winston Garcia, who were externally sourced, or MICPG members like Brother Clifford Lynch, often made appearances.

Each conference had a key theme with its own rallying song composed by MICPG musicians and led by the guitarists. As these conferences grew both in popularity and in attendees, Sister Edriss raised money through tea parties and cookouts to purchase tents and other essential items to ensure the comfort and safety of all.


Can’t play sailor and ‘fraid powder

At prayer meetings there were often pre-organised speakers to present topics of interest. However, at times a carded speaker would not show up and Sister Edriss would unhesitatingly fill the gap.

Though spur of the moment, her talks were always engaging, leaving her audience pining for more. It was no surprise when she was a featured speaker at the Marian Devotions at the Laventille Shrine. When asked how she gave her extemporaneous talks with such ease, she always responded, “You can’t play sailor and ‘fraid powder!”.

Sister Edriss administered the sub groups of the City/Cathedral Deanery. Under her tenure, Belmont, Cathedral/Sacred Heart, Beetham Estate, Morvant, St Ann’s and Tobago were clustered into one group. Her competency and wisdom as deanery coordinator were very much appreciated.

She was a member of the National Service Team (NST) of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. In conjunction with the MICPG, she was always responsible for two aspects of the preparation of the national charismatic rally venue. At that time, it was the Queen’s Park Savannah.

Often, she invited the help of various government officials to get the materials needed to construct the stage for rally presentations and Holy Mass. She also took care of the rally catering and maintained a consistently high standard each year.

Alongside Fr Hezekiah, her personal spiritual director, Sister Edriss was extremely instrumental in the healing ministry. No matter the location and time, Sister Edriss and her team were always present at all Fr Hezekiah’s healing Masses and sessions (prior to, during, and after his stint as Cathedral administrator).

He would not proceed without Sister Edriss and her team which included Margaret Bugros, her second in command and principal prayer leader for many years, Larry and Annette Le Blanc, Eunice Joseph, and others.

She also worked closely with Msgr Christian Pereira and Fr Garfield Rochard (when they were Cathedral administrators) in the Cathedral secretariat as well as the MICPG office. Everyone said she never missed a day at either of these offices, or at prayer meetings. Her commitment was boundless.

Sister Edriss was always generous with her table and household resources. She happily provided lodging and board, or other help to anyone, autographed with her signature smile. She is missed greatly. May she rest in peace.